Myths, Fallacies, & Dubious Clichés

                                        New Age Mysticism & Mumbo Jumbo

Interventionism and Socialism               Classical Errors About the Way Things Work

Climate Science vs Climate Politics      Wrong Turns in Ontology & Epistemology

Neutralizers, Political Pitfalls, & Defeatist Attitudes to Avoid

False Claims Against Other Anti-Communists

Religion and Faith

1.  "Prove that God does NOT exist!  Atheism is a belief based on faith just
as much as a religious belief!"

Sometimes a sincere religious person will claim that atheism is a belief in
the absence of God and therefore -- since one cannot disprove the existence
of any God -- it is claimed that atheism involves a leap of faith just as
much as any religous belief does.  This is fallacious.  Here's why.

Atheism is the absence of a belief in any God -- not the belief in the
absence or nonexistence of any God.  In fact the word "atheism" means
"without a belief in god" and is not the assertion of a positive claim at
all but rather the absence of any belief in a god.  Since it is impossible
to prove a negative, it is not possible to "prove that God does not exist"
and it is irrational to demand such a proof.  It is the same as with the
absence of any belief in Leprachauns.  Logically, the burden of proof is
always on he who asserts the positive claim -- not on those who do not claim
to believe in Leprachauns or who have an  absence of any particular belief
or claim.  It is impossible to "prove that Leprachauns do NOT exist" and
irrational to demand that someone try to do so.  The same is true with
respect to the absence of a belief in God.  The onus of proof is not on the
atheist to prove that God does not exist (which is logically not possible to
do) but on those who claim that God does exist.  Never attempt to prove that
somehting does not exist.  Demand of those who claim to believe in the
existence of something to show valid evidence -- facts -- as a basis for
their belief in or their claim for the existence of God or leprachauns or
Gaia or whatever.

2.  "We observe order in the natural universe and this must be the result of
design; therefore, the universe must have been created by a pre-existing

The analogy is sometimes made by those who believe in a Creator God that
just as a a human artifact -- such as a computer, an automobile, or a spear
-- is designed and then manufactured by a designing human mind of an
engineer, the Universe as a whole was likewise planned, designed, and
created by a Grand Creator or Divine Designer called God, and the
non-man-made order in the Universe reflects that Divine design and gives
powerful evidence of God's existence.  This is the
old Argument from Design for the existence of God and is, on the
surface at least, perhaps the most persuasive argument for God's existence
for many people.  But it is false.  Here's why:

First, the analogy between God as creator of the Universe (i.e., all that
exists) and a human engineer as creator of a car does not hold because the
human engineer does not start out with nothing -- as God is supposed to have
done when He created the Universe ex nihilo (out of nothing).  Human
engineers start with already existing materials -- matter and energy in
their various forms -- such as copper and iron and chromium and silicon,
etc. -- and these already existing materials are extracted from the Earth
(the already existing natural universe) and used to manufacture the various
components that go into the construction of an automobile or a computer or a
spear.  The human engineer does not create anything out of nothing.  Nobody
can do that.

Second, order does not necessarily imply design.  Of course, human
organization implies human planning and design, BUT there can be and is
natural order -- order found in nature -- not put there by any planner or
designer but which inheres in natural things.  Indeed, when one considers
the situation of order, there has to be a pre-existing order, along with the
pre-existing materials of the natural universe (air, metal ore, soil,
minerals, water, etc.), before any intelligent engineer can sit down and
discover how to use those pre-existing laws of nature to manipulate the
pre-existing materials of nature to design and create objects of technology
-- from the wheel to a spacecraft.  Scientists did not invent the various
laws of nature; they discovered them as already existing patterns of
behavior in nature.  These natural laws or natural principles are
descriptions of how things behave under specified circumstances.  These
"laws" are not passed by any human legislature or decreed by any king; they
inhere in the nature of things and existed before humans came on the scene.
They are part of the natural order and were not created by anyone.  Humans
learned to harness these already existing natural laws (e.g., the Law of
Gravitation, Newton's Three Laws of Motion, Coulomb's Law, Boyle's Law,
Charles Law, Dalton's Law, the laws of thermodynamics, Ohm's Law,
Einstein's mass-energy equation, etc. etc.) to create human technologies by rearranging natural resources into human artifacts.

Also, consider that if anything, such as God, is said to have "created" the
Universe, he or it would have to exist outside of and before the Universe,
and therefore not be part of existence.  It makes no sense to "pre-exist
existence"; either one exists or one does not exist.   You cannot step
"outside of" everything.  There is no boundary wider than all of that which
exists.  Either God is part of existence and therefore did not create it,
or God does not exist.

3.  "When did the Universe begin?"  What year, month, and hour did
everything start?

This one is not perhaps strictly a religious issue, but is the kind of
question one used to get from college sophmores after watching the Milky
Way in awe for several minutes.  I include it here because it is closely
related to the errors about the "creation of the universe" by a Creator God.

Philosophically, this question represents the fallacy of the stolen concept.
The Universe, in philosophy, means literally everything that exists --
regardless of form or whether it be matter or energy or something else.
Just as you cannot step "outside of" everything in existence since you
would no longer be part of that which exists, so also you cannot go back "before" the universe as a whole existed.   There is no such thing as "before the universe began" or "before existence existed" or "when" the universe "started" and the like.

Time involves the measurement of relative motion -- the Earth revolving
around the Sun as one year or a minute hand moving around the face of a
watch or clock for one minute of time.  The concept of time requires and
rests on the antecedent concepts of motion and entity.  Time presupposes
motion and motion presupposes the existence of things to do the moving.
Clearly, existence is more fundamental than time.  Time exists "within" the
universe; the universe does not exist "within" time.

Also, note that the Big Bang Theory currently in vogue in astrophysics
makes no difference here, at least if it is clearly and properly
interpreted.  From a philosophical perspective, the Universe (all that is)
did not begin with the "big bang" and, as I have pointed out before in
other venues, even the Big Bang Theory postulates the existence of a highly
dense "nuclear egg" prior to the actual Big Bang.  This means that before
(prior to) the so-called "big bang" of outward explosion of matter and
energy, the entire universe existed in the form of that nuclear egg -- or
whatever the big bang exploded out of.  Events do not come out of nothing.  Events, including the "big bang" (assuming the theory is correct), proceed from entities.

The point is that the form of the contents of existence may change, but it
cannot logically be said that there was ever a time "when" the universe
(existence) did not exist and then "after" that time the universe suddenly
came into existence.  Nothing pre-exists existence.  The Universe is
eternal -- outside of time.

4.  "The end is nigh!  The Messiah is coming soon!"

Uh, no.

5.  Current events are revealed by Biblical prophecy.

I have read Hal Lindsay's Late Great Planet Earth and heard TV and radio
evangelists weave their interpretations of contemporary news into Bible
passages, and I have concluded that Biblical prophecy is a con game played
by con artists on gullible people.

I will go into far more detail on this fallacy at a later time.


What about the Enron and Arthur Anderson accounting scandals? And what about the loss in value of so many peoples' pension funds and retirement nest eggs as a result of the plunge in the stock market? Don't these events indicate a fundamental problem with capitalism? Isn't private greed and the profit motive to blame?

The answer is: No; click here to find out why market capitalism is not to blame and discover what really is to blame

Do people have an absolute right to drive on any and all roads and highways without a driver's license?

I think people have a natural right to do anything they want with THEIR OWN STUFF -- their own person and properties -- as long as they do not violate the rights of others by doing something to the persons or properties of others against the wills of the owners or without their permission. It is the ownership boundaries of the properties involved in any given situation which determine who decides what.

If you own a thousand acres of land and make a little road that goes around on that land, you can drive on that road as much as you want and at any speed you want since it's YOUR road and what you are doing does not involve the person or property of anyone else. You don't need a license to drive on your own road. You give yourself permission to do so.

If you drive on SOMEONE ELSE'S road, you drive by the permission of that road's owner and under conditions set by that owner. The owner of the road has a right to set the conditions under which people may drive on his or her road. This may include speed limits or driver's licensing or toll fees. Obviously, if the company that owns a road makes the conditions for dirving on it too restrictive, not very many folks will drive on it and the company will lose revenue. It will be in the self-interest of the road company to maximize traffic on its road consistent with safety and maintenance considerations. But I think that reasonable requirements in terms of safe driving, speed limitations, etc. may be set by whoever owns or manages a road or highway. There is no absolute right to drive on someone else's roperty.

So, if the government owns a thoroughfare, it reasonably has the authority to set contractual requirements for the use of that highway by requiring driver's licenses, speed limit observance, the avoidance of reckless driving (with the purpose of achieving wreckless driving), etc.

Clichés of Politics - one of the very best sites dealing with common myths, fallacies, and misconceptions in the fields of politics and economics. Discussions of these issues are presented in an entertaining way accessible to young people as well as the average American who is interested in government policies and the health of the economy.

Enter Stage Right - unorthodox conservative e-journal, one that stresses laissez-faire capitalism, individualism, and freedom.

The Freedom Party of Ontario

The London Capitali$m Web! -- Simply excellent. Filled with thought-provoking facts and intellectual ammo in the defense of freedom and free markets.

Townhall -- An interactive internet community of conservative & libertarian think tanks, public policy organizations, and individuals. It is also an excellent source of news and perspectives you won't get watching TV.

The Future of Freedom Foundation seeks to present an uncompromising moral, philosophical, and economic case for individual freedom and limited government.

The Free Radical -- Online Edition Politics, economics and life as if freedom mattered

The Library of Economics & Liberty

Liberty Classics

Liberty Haven -- Here is a wealth of essays and research papers -- thousands of articles!

Laissez-Faire City Times! Don't miss this site! All about Frederic Bastiat in both English and in French